Thursday, June 28, 2007

How Could Anyone Forget This Day?

Alas the importance of this day is lost on far too many people, and it truly is a shame.

It's such an important date in history...especially for one man. One man whose father was a newspaperman. One man whose life took many a twist. One man who struggled mightily for our nation...and his sanity.

That's right.

Vince Carter.

No, not the basketball player.

Sergeant Vince Carter.

I mean when June 28th rolls around each year, we should all pull our attention away from what we're doing and take a moment to gaze off into the horizon of history and remember Sergeant Carter.

Actually, that wasn't his real name. You probably have to be a real Gomer Pyle freak to even know his character's first name was Vince. His real name was Frank Sutton and although he is best known for his portrayal of the dismayed disciplinarian and unwitting foil of Gomer Pyle, Sutton had done some serious stuff before that show.

I mean who could forget his role as Cadet Eric Raddison in the series "Tom Corbett - Space Cadet?"

That's a rhetorical question. You can stop looking, Sutton's not in that picture. I couldn't find a picture of him from the show. All I really know is he played a character by that name in an "unknown number" of episodes of "Tom Corbin - Space Cadet."

Still it was ground breaking stuff...a precursor to Star Trek and we all know how many brilliant actors got their starts on that "Unnamed Crewman Number Two."

Anyway, I believe we should all circle this day, June 28th, on our mental calendars because it was on this date, in 1974, that Sergeant Vince Carter aka Cadet Eric Raddison...Frank Sutton left us...permanently.

Yep, the big dirt nap.

Sutton died in Shreveport, Louisiana. He had a heart attack. He was 50.

But, on a brighter note: My friend Chuck Sigars has selected me as his featured Überboomer, since I did not die on this day - knock on wood - which I at least consider somewhat noteworthy.

I made it to 50!

Hmmm...then again so did Frank Sutton.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I Should Read More

I found my birth certificate the other day. Well, that's not completely accurate. I knew where my birth certificate was but the other day I put it with other documents that responsible people are supposed have together in one place instead of scattered about in sock drawers, or the "everything that can fit inside it basket" by the door, or the "everything that will fit plus some drawer" of my desk, and assorted other spots.

Today I pulled out my birth certificate and actually read it.

I've never had a reason to read my birth certificate before I suppose. I mean I know the basic facts and to the best of my knowledge none of them are in dispute.
When I sat down to write I realized there was one fact I didn't know, or maybe I did and long ago forgot, in any case I never thought it was that important. I still don't think it's important but now I do know what time of day I was born...the exact time, at least as recorded on my birth record.

Amy knows the time she was born, the time each kid was born, the time various nieces and nephews were born, and probably the time our dogs were spawned from the bowels of Hades.

She has a head for useless numbers, and a heart for evil little dogs.

Anyway, I was born at 12:29 a.m. That means I'm older than I thought. I sort of always assumed I was an afternoon kid, I don't know why. Now that I know I was born so close to midnight I feel like I should have lobbied to be born on New Year's Day.

I'd probably have had a good shot at being the first kid born in Washington DC in 1958 and received all sorts of prizes, scholarships, diapers, coupons for laundry detergent...the possibilities are endless. Of course I wasn't in a position to lobby anyone even though I was born in Washington D.C. and in any case my mother would have grabbed all the glory since she would have had to set a new world's record for human gestation and probably the record for keeping one's legs crossed as well.

Plus there's no telling what type of childhood I would have had considering the pent up resentment my mother would likely have had towards a child who extended her pregnancy by 66 percent. Odds are my Dad would find it hard to be pleasant to me too, considering he would have borne the brunt of my mother's wrath for those extra six months. So I was born in 1957...although if I had been born in Texas and tried to hold out until January I would have been born before midnight due to the time zone thing, which really would have ticked off my parents, and I'd probably hold a grudge too.

Yeah, I agree...that's probably about as far off on a tangent as I can take this concept without getting too ridiculous..."too" being a subjective term.

I beg your forgiveness...I'm getting old. In ten hours or so I'll be 50.

I think I should nap.

The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old. - Proverbs 12:29

Oh, alright you caught me...there is no verse 29 in Proverbs would have been cool if it worked out that way. That's Proverbs 20:29 for you sticklers.

Maybe I'll just tell folks I was born one minute before what it says on my birth certificate...

In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality.- Proverbs 12:28

I think I'll do that...I mean who's going to read my birth certificate to prove me wrong? It took me 49 years 12 hours and 30 some odd minutes...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Big Behinds Get Ahead

My boss forwarded me an email yesterday which asked simply, "What do you think of this?"

I have to sort of dance around my words a bit because my business is involved, but really only in a narrow aspect.

The email was from "Ed Riley" - that's not his real name - a man I worked with at the same radio station I'm still at maybe 21 years ago.

I remember when he blew into town. He had landed a job as sort of a morning host for WOAI, the guy who said, "Happy Morning!" and introduced the cast of characters from the traffic girl to the weatherman to the news anchors. He was responsible for really two things, being non-offensive and keeping everyone on time in their various elements. He also did the news on occasion and did some reporting.

The reason my boss sent me Ed Riley's email was that Ed had apparently learned the station is looking for a news anchor for the morning program. In his time, Ed could be a very good news anchor...but back then - he may possibly be a completely different person after all these years - he was what is commonly referred to in the broadcast industry as "radio slime."

Yes, that's sort of derogatory and considering how some radio programming has degenerated in the past couple of decades please don't confuse that term with "shock jocks" or quasi-racists or people who make far too much money with a steady diet of jokes about body parts and bodily functions which most intelligent people cease to find humorous in even small doses by the time they're seven or eight. That's not what I mean by "radio slime" and it would be far too insulting to think of Ed Riley in that manner.

Back in the 80's, it was common to work with one or more "radio slime." These were guys - mostly guys - who had talent and charisma but who lacked a work ethic, or were so caught up in themselves that they couldn't seem to keep a good job. It wasn't uncommon for even good radio people to move around a lot in those days...there were a lot of radio stations and if you were single and carefree, you could pursue greater opportunities in a lot of places...if you were "radio slime" you could throw a fit, get fired, and be working two days later at a station across the street. Getting fired didn't hold the stigma that it did in other industries...everyone in radio has been fired at least once.

Ed Riley was fired a lot...or quit...and although he worked for some major broadcast outlets, he never could seem to get his act fully together. When he arrived at WOAI he drove up in a beat up Yugo that was belching smoke and which literally contained everything he owned. There was widespread, never confirmed, speculation that he had actually been living in a "U-Lock-It" since losing his previous job. I don't know if that is true but I know this much, his car could have fit in a self storage outlet, with room to spare.

Ed made good money...but never had any money. He was a dope smoker, a party animal, thought himself a "ladies man" and did his best to act the part...which required him to spend his money on things like pot (to this day I have never met anyone who smoked as much pot as Ed - and I've known some pot smokers in my time) and hair care products, and if he managed to keep a job long enough he'd rent a "bachelor pad" furnished with a king sized water bed...and mirrors. The mirrors were mostly so he could check his hair, although some were used for chopping up cocaine on occasion.

Ed was a really nice guy most of the time. He was enthusiastic, and he could be a good reporter when he wanted to be. He could really have been a good anything had he devoted himself to it. He was charming and funny and the first to tell you he was good looking. He actually once "surveyed" the radio station employees - okay the female employees - asking them to write down their vote for "the hottest guy" who worked in the building. I think he won, I don't really remember...I do remember how amazed I was that any adult human being needed so much reassurance.

I forget the exact reason Ed left...not sure if he was fired, or if he quit in a huff, or if he simply stopped showing up for work. One day he was gone...and as far as my life went that only meant that I wouldn't have to say,"Excuse me" as often because he wouldn't be taking up space in front of the mirror in the men's room any more.

I heard from him every so often for a few years, then heard he had actually married someone and it apparently stuck, and I recall hearing he had a serious heart condition which doctors caught just in time...I praised God for that news.

Then I never heard another word about him.

I tried to track him down some months ago when my old boss George Jennings died, but I couldn't find him anywhere. I checked all the media people I could think of, and "Googled" him. I finally used a few tools I have and managed to track down his driver's license information. He was apparently in a small town in Florida, but his license only listed a P.O. Box...I couldn't find a phone number.

I really wasn't that surprised. Ed had apparently still been living the vagabond life that really you don't see much of any longer in radio. The only media reference I could find was for an apparently brief stint at a TV station, but when I tried to track him down there, I learned he no longer held that position and apparently hadn't for some time.

The email my boss forwarded me revealed Ed is currently working for a news/traffic service that is utilized by a lot of radio stations who don't want to hire news or traffic people. It's usually a place where people start their careers at very low wages, but sometimes it's a place where people who can't seem to live without being in the spotlight...any spotlight...gravitate too...just so they can still think of themselves as being a "radio personality."

And that's what got me thinking last night. My boss already knows my thoughts about actually hiring Ed's not something he was asking my input on in a serious manner. He only wanted me to know that Ed was still out there...and apparently still struggling.

I've seen a lot of people come and go in the broadcasting industry. Most folks who are really good, or even fairly good, land somewhere...usually for a decent length of time. The days of being fired every 2 years and walking across the street to another station are long odds are the company you just quit owns not only the station across the street...but the street itself.

"Radio slime" became extinct pretty soon after the big consolidation era of broadcasting. Most "radio slime" moved onto other jobs in sales of some form, or just burned themselves out mentally and physically.

There are a number of highly qualified people who my company could hire for the position we have open. In fact one is a guy I also worked with 20 some odd years ago too.
But unlike Ed, he has something else going besides talent and drive...and even passion for the industry....values.

I think about the folks like Ed Riley and imagine what the past 20 plus years have been like for him. His ego and self-worth were, at least when I knew him, so caught up in his appearance and his "star power." I imagine it's been a constant battle to keep looking in the mirror although I'd bet he doesn't have quite as many mirrors around.

The people who survive in this industry over the long haul learn somewhere along the way about where they should place their values. The healthy and happy ones I know, almost always made a decision at some point in time to work hard at achieving a deeper sense of purpose. They found how much more substantive family is to fame and that faith in something larger than themselves keeps their egos in check, their skills honed, and makes all of their relationships better.

When I started at WOAI there was a weatherman who was legendary in South Texas and beyond even back then. His name is Bill McReynolds. Bill came to work every day - I mean every day. He took one day off work over a more than 50 year period...and complained about being ordered to do that, but the doctors wouldn't let him go back to work the day after getting his appendix removed.

He was charismatic, charming, funny and always upbeat. He loved radio, loved doing the weather and agricultural news and he loved life. Everybody knew him, still knows him, loved him and still loves him. Bill never thought of himself as a "star." He thought of himself as "blessed."

I'm sure today he hasn't changed a lick although I only see him on rare occasions. That's because when "Billy Mack" retired, at the age of 78 or so, he left the radio stations - oh sure, the company gave him a big send-off a few weeks before his departure but I don't think he really cared much about it - no, when he left it was just like any other day, except perhaps if possible he had a bigger smile on his face than usual. He waved goodbye...and never looked back. Why should he? He had too much to look forward to for him to do that.

It's probably been eight or nine years since Bill left and he's spent that time with his bride of more than a half century traveling around the world, seeing great things, and also spent a lot of time with his children and their children and their children's children, I'm certain seeing things even greater.

Bill McReynolds I'm sure is still having a ball...

I suspect despite an unprecedented career, good health, "fame" that he never acknowledge, I'm sure there is one thing Billy Mack has never claimed - he's never boasted that he's "lived the life of Riley."

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Doing The Thought Link Limbo

Assorted flotsam...

*I suppose I should mention that most "links" on this blog only show up if you hover over the words. I'm still ambivalent about having the code set up that way, but know I don't like having all sorts of underlines or different colored words to point people down various trains of thought. However if you find yourself wanting more information about something I've spouted, for now at least you'll have to hover around a bit...odds are you'll find a link leading you somewhere I consider relevant. Think of it as an oddly tedious but hopefully more rewarding version of "Where's Waldo."

Speaking of obscuring the obvious. I try not to judge other folks. I mean it's pretty well spelled out in one of my favorite books that judgment should be left up to the Guy who has a much a higher pay grade than I'll ever attain. Of course, I'll readily admit that when it comes to finding flaws I need only look in the mirror to discover the perfect visual aid.

Still, I did read with interest a recent story about an Episcopal priest in Washington state who has announced that she is both a Christian and a Muslim. Apparently that's fine with her employer. I've known a lot of folks who have struggled spiritually, but none ever had the theological possibility of going on a jihad against themselves.

Is there a word for an Episcopal Muslim? Islamacopalchrislim? Episcomuslim? Muslicopal?

I think I'll just settle for "confused."

Thao and Elaine have moved in. Don't you be confused, they're two separate people...our latest "Upper Room Ministry" family members. Both are interning at the local newspaper for the summer...I'm not going to say too much about them...because I haven't really mentioned that I might write about them, plus I haven't gotten to know them too well yet.

They're both young, polite and quiet. I really am never quite sure when they're here. Thao is a photojournalist and Elaine is a we share some common ground which so far has prompted the only "rule" of the house, that we don't talk about work too much. I want this to be their home, as well as mine, and no one wants to have to worry about household conversation creating ethical concerns at our respective offices. We've borrowed a line from those Las Vegas promotional ads, What happens at home stays at home.

Hopefully that'll be more than a cute slogan everyone knows is a lie. I mean no one really believes what happens in Vegas actually stays in Vegas do they?

Thao does have a website, which I have no problem mentioning since it's a wonderful display of her talent. Elaine may have one too, but she hasn't mentioned it to me in the little time I've had to actually speak with her.

As some of you know our philosophy for the past few years, inspired by our first "room mate" Erin, has been to respond to our call to the mission field not by going somewhere else but - as Erin put it - by being someone else's elsewhere.

That led us to open our home to people in need. The Gomez family came after hurricane Katrina, followed by Simon, Katrina (no relation to the hurricane) and their adorable daughter Emily and then by "Shell" who moved in sort of gradually and some six months later left like an angry twister in a Kansas mobile home park.

We were blessed by all of those "family" members. Each had their challenges, but that's part of the deal. Admittedly at times Amy and I have had to remind each other that if they didn't have needs, they wouldn't need to live with us.

Thao and Elaine are different to a large degree in that they aren't so much in need of a place to get back on their feet as they are a safe place from which to launch the next season of their lives.

That's fine with us...our lives are more untidy these days, so low maintenance house guests/family members/room mates seem like another way God has blessed us. Between their wacky "intern" hours and my wacky every day hours...I hardly see them, although we're going to try to figure out a time to get our schedules to mesh enough for a regular family dinner. That'll come I'm sure...I've yet to run into young adults - or for that matter old adults - who can't eventually find time to enjoy Amy's cooking.

Today's the first day of summer. One week from today I'll turn 50.

A half century of life...a good time to count my blessings.


In about three weeks Amy and I will be off on our annual trek to Lakeside, Ohio to rejuvenate ourselves with the renewing power of family and faith. Lakeside is an interesting place, a little town where to a large degree time has stood still. It took me a while to get used to it...each year now it takes me longer to get used to not being there.

Not everyone grasps that concept, especially at my office where co-workers still look oddly at the pictures of the last place Amy and I went on "vacation": Moldova.

This morning a co-worker heard my boss and I talking about my vacation schedule and jokingly asked, "Where are you going this time? Beirut?"

I laughed and said, "No, I'm only going about 1300 miles...back to 1953."

I'm certain he's more confused now than ever...but that's fine. In fact the more I think about it, I sort of like it when folks have to hover about a bit trying to determine more about what I'm all about.

*Update: I received some diverse comments and emails in response to this post. Most of them had nothing in common except for the universal request that readers not be forced to "hover" to find links in posts.

So I'm capitulating to some degree. You'll see the links within posts themselves are now a different color...and actually if you hover over them the color changes slightly. The links on the sidebar however are not a different color unless you hover over them. I sort of figure most folks realize that things listed on the sidebar are links.

For those of you who really want to dig further into this weighty issue (then again it's the one thing I got the most universal response about ) "visited" links don't change color either...that is something I still find annoying, so I'm holding my ground on that one.

Unless a lot of people complain.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Food For Thought

Pardon this for being somewhat raw. I really wanted to see if this would work.

Being the uncooperative little nut job that he is, I think Winston actually ate slower than usual...although his head is bobbing for about 40 seconds, believe me that bowl was empty in half that time...he just keeps licking it hoping for more.

One day I'll do a more professional job of editing.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Watch Your Step Baby

I think it was about six months ago that Amy started regularly bringing up the idea of having a baby.

Yes, it caught me off guard too.

Amy has such a sweet soul, and she really deeply wants to have "my" child. There are lots of logical arguments for her position, Amy loves babies, I love kids and seem to do really well with them until they're old enough to understand what I'm talking about, and there is no male on my side of the family who has produced a son to carry on the family name. So when my brothers and I pass on, our little contribution to the gene pool will likely go with us.

Amy was pretty head-strong about the idea of baby making for a while there. I think I was so stunned and too busy initially making sure she wasn't double dipping on her medications and hallucinating to really argue against the concept. Eventually I realized she was very serious and her desires were not something I could ignore. I then took the approach of gently reminding her that I will be 50 years old far too soon, that her health has not been the best and I wasn't sure getting pregnant would be medically advisable, plus - putting this as delicately as I can - about a decade ago we took a rather dramatic surgical step to make sure we wouldn't produce a baby.

Amy didn't flinch....saying I was a "young 50"...which I'm sure she intended to come out "young 49"...that she always loved being pregnant, and that with all the surgeries she's already endured one more to reverse the steps we took a decade ago would be "a piece of cake."

I think I may have been on the phone with the local Rubber Ramada when Amy's Mom called her on her cell phone.

Amy's Mom is great...and soon I was confidently canceling my reservation for a padded room - with two single beds (I was just being cautious). I didn't hear the conversation but knowing that my Mother-in-law is a Godly woman blessed with immense wisdom, I imagine she delivered a well thought out, loving and gentle reply when Amy mentioned her renewed passion for pregnancy. It probably sounded something like, "ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?"

Actually, I'm sure she was far more delicate than that, but whatever she said worked. Amy dropped the idea of becoming a Mom and I stopped having nightmares about how I would possibly be able to coach a Little League team while stooped over using a walker.

So I'm not a father, and I'm not going to be one. I'm fine with that...after all I do have three kids.

Sorry, I suppose that could be confusing. I am a "step" father...I have a "step" son, and two "step" daughters. They have a wonderful Dad whom they rightly love and who loves them. I never had the pleasure of wiping their spittle off my shoulder or learning to enjoy making goo-goo sounds while saying flattering things about the contents of their diapers. Still, as far as I'm concerned they're my children too...maybe not by blood, but by love.

I'll admit I didn't always feel that way. Many years ago I wrote about how difficult it was being a stepfather for me in what in hindsight I see was essentially a moment of rather obvious self-pity. It was before I had a blog but the piece is still up on the Internet, I called it "Step Lightly Step dad."

I hadn't read that in a long time...I actually forgot I had written it, until late this afternoon. It came to mind I suppose because I had spent most of Saturday morning writing other things...three rather lengthy emails to be precise.

The content of those emails are not for publication, but I will tell you this much I made sure to tell the three recipients how much I love them, and how very honored I am to be their "step" dad.

I can't think of a better way to mark Father's day.

What has become, somewhat inadvertently, my "traditional" Father's day post modified slightly by the reality of time is here.

Thank you Dad.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

How Sweep It Is!

Only a few seconds to revel...before I go begin documenting revelers.

The Spurs have won their fourth NBA title and I know the series didn't get high TV ratings, but parents, little league coaches, school athletic directors, you folks should find a recording of this series to show to your kids and students.

There is something they may never have seen in their lives demonstrated in every game by both the Spurs and the Cavaliers from the last guy on the bench to the suits in the front offices.

Good sportsmanship.

You may have to explain to your kids what that used to be a common thing.

It's not so much anymore.

Congratulations to the Cavaliers, they are great competitors and their future is so bright I have no problem basking in a bit in the Spurs moment in the sun.

Great teamwork, good sportsmanship...and a sweep.

It doesn't get much better in my mind.

Anyone want to go for number five?

Paused, Poised, And Parenting

I have the Spurs/Cavalier game paused, since I'm going to have to switch into another gear should the Spurs win and because I have a digital recorder that allows me to pause live TV.

If the Spurs win tonight, I'll head straight into work to start blowing up components of our normal morning format so we can be "all Spurs all the time." Barring a huge news event, the only thing San Antonio will be talking about Friday is the Spurs. My role for my company is in part to discern what people are talking about and make sure we're talking about it on the radio too, so with a victory, this is a no-brainer.

I need to mention though that I took down my Spurs calendar at my office today. That might seem odd, considering I have to occasionally regularly justify, at least to myself, my Spurs mania and rationalize it as not being "idol worship."

Yesterday though, which was a difficult day for a number of reasons, I got caught up in my "work mentality" and expressed some frustrations which had been churning for a while to Amy and anyone else who would pretend to listen. I also conducted a "social experiment" (another story) to prove my point about what I see as an area that needs improvement at my office.

I didn't get home until nearly one in the afternoon - I go to work at one in the morning - so I was tired, frustrated and feeling a bit down on myself.

On our porch at home I found a large Fed-Ex/Express Mail or some other "fast delivery service" envelop addressed to me. I thought it was yet another corporate proxy statement from Disney, a company in which I own one share of stock. They send me so much stuff on the business that what they spend in postage is more than my share of stock is worth. However this time the package wasn't more corporate minutiae from Disney.

But it was pretty wonderful nonetheless.

The envelope contained a calendar...made by our kids via one of those cool on line photo sites. It features photos of all three of our children (all adults now but children forever in my heart) and it was their father's day gift to me.

I really nearly broke down...and Amy might disagree on the adverb "nearly." I admit tearing up a bit and not talking a whole lot.

It is such a thoughtful gift and it came at the absolute perfect moment to serve as a vivid reminder of where I need to place value in my life.

So I took down my Spurs calendar at the office today and put the kid's calendar in its place.

The next time I let anything at my job loom large in my mind, I hope I'll remember to stare at that calendar and consider the love I am so blessed to have received by the children who have so graciously accepted me into their lives.

I adore the Spurs.

Tiffany, Joey and Lisa....I LOVE you, more than I fear I can ever express in words.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Almost One Just Before Midnight

One win away.

Okay, so most of the country doesn't care about the Spurs or the NBA finals, but I do.

And with tonight's victory, the Cav's have a seemingly insurmountable task ahead, while the Spurs are one win win away...

Only one win away...from me getting to sleep on some type of regular schedule!

Oh, and the Spurs will get a trophy and rings and we'll have parades and stuff too.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Dewey Decimal Disciple

I actually started writing something entirely different when I took a turn in my thoughts about my testimony, and soon I realized I was confused trying to tie it all together, so there was no hope anyone else would be able to follow my thinking.

If only I could stick in occasional signs to keep you pointed in the right direction.

Anyway, five or maybe even as long as seven years ago I gave a testimony at our former church. There's still a link on the sidebar, or if you're really that bored you can click on the word testimony in the above sentence.
Anyway, for a quite a while now, I've been thinking that my testimony is sorely in need of a's on my "long overdue for updating" list...along of course with the list itself.

Out of the blue six or so months ago I got an email from a very nice man who told me my testimony was being "reviewed for possible publication" by the operator of a Christian "testimony" website...yeah, who happens to be the same guy who sent me the email. He actually wanted to know if I had an audio recording of what I had written, but I don't (at least not anywhere I can find) and that also gets into some murky areas considering I'm in the radio business. I honestly didn't want to expend the effort determining if his website was non-profit, where it's located, if I might in some way be violating the terms of my employment by giving him an audio recording, yada yada yada...

The request was completely unsolicited, and I'm sure there's no profit motive, but I sent back an email saying he was welcome to use my testimony but I had no recording available. Obviously the intent of even having a "testimony" is to share it, so this all seemed highly sensible to me...and still does...with one or two minor reservations.

A couple of months went by, I forgot all about it until another email arrived thanking me for giving the site permission to publish my story and it had been "accepted."

I will readily admit I was a little flattered.

I didn't waste much time before surfing over to the website half hoping to see my story prominently displayed, hard at work saving souls in cyberspace.

Couldn't find it.

Well, at least not on the first page of the site...or any prominently highlighted link.

Then I realized the majority of the testimonies were "categorized" under the main heading of "Stories of Hope."

The categories began with "Abortion" and ran the gamut from "Demons" to "Money and Finances" to "Orphans" and a bunch of others before the two final categories:"Success" and "Suicide."

I wasn't sure where to begin, so I made some educated guesses. I mean it was my testimony how hard could be it be to figure out what category it would fall under?

I checked "Alcohol Abuse"...nope, I wasn't classified there. "Orphans" was nearby so I looked there out of luck.

There are a lot of categories, which sadly enough I figured I could theoretically fall under.

It took a while.

I finally found it under the category:"Drug Abuse."

Actually it still wasn't that easy to find...because there were...sub-categories.

A lot of sub-categories:

"Cocaine & Crack"
"Crank/Methamphetamines" By the way, there is no such thing as "methamphetamines." There are amphetamines (pills) and methamphetamine which is a powder. Saying, "methamphetamines" is like saying, "cocaines." Sorry, it's a pet peeve on which I've corrected numerous reporters over the years.

Anyway, the sub-categories continued.

There was:"Death," and "Drug Dealer," and then "Heroine, Speed, Ecstasy, etc." - That one also made me cringe not only because "Speed" is "crank" but also because I was worried inspiring stories of women of Christ might have somehow been misplaced in there.

There's only one "e' in heroin...the drug.

And the list continued:

"Death from Drug Abuse"
"Drug Dealer"
"Marijuana & Hash"
"Other Drug Abuse"
"Prescription/Pharmaceutical Drugs"

In all honesty, they could have thrown my testimony into any number of those sub-categories, although I'm thankful not to have been among the nominees for "Death" and I was never really a drug dealer.

So I slogged through, long after losing my wild idea of being an inspiration to anyone but instead more curious as to what deviant behavior got me a ranking.


"Other Drug Abuse" to be specific.

I have no real idea what that means, but that's where I found my testimony along with an image from my website which had been awkwardly squeezed beside it rather than properly resized...or better yet abandoned.

Please don't get the wrong impression. I still think this is a wonderful ministry idea...the site is I urge you to check it out...when you have a lot of time.

I figured if my story could conceivably help one person, I would have been more than adequately compensated. Of course, I also realized that if someone actually found my testimony on that website they would likely be manically high on speed at the time.

Who am I to judge?

People find their relationship with God in all sorts of ways, and I truly pray that the website will give hope to people who perhaps consider themselves hopeless.

But, I also pray people on those journeys come to realize that God doesn't categorize, sub-categorize or quantify them.

None of us lead tidy lives...our roads to salvation are invariably messy, and although there may be many paths to God, I tend to think the separations between those paths are mostly man-made creations.

In God's eye, I believe it's a wide open road.

I guess I'm saying, don't allow our fallible foibles, and well intentioned efforts to distract you from "the way."

Train me, God, to walk straight; then I'll follow your true path.
Put me together, one heart and mind; then, undivided, I'll worship in joyful fear.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Seeing Above The Problem

I've told Amy often enough if work were fun they'd have called it sex.

However this wasn't the best of days at the office and I'm really feeling pulled to explore some other options. I don't want to make that decision in a time of frustration and there are other factors, a lot of other factors at play.

Still today I allowed the frustrations of being forced for the past two years to work with dysfunctional equipment/software make me dysfunctional. That's not a metaphor, I'm not that deep or that dirty, our newsroom computer software integration makes my job increasingly more difficult, because the software sucks. I can deal with things that are broken, it's when no one deals with an obvious problem...for two bleepedity bleep years that sometimes I can let it dictate my productivity. Today was one of those days. There are some other things at play, poor people skills among people my job seemingly relies upon, and some doubts as to whether there is someone with the leadership to stop acknowledging the issues, and start working on them.

Anyway, today wasn't the best of days. I had to walk away...and pray.


Work is work.

Life is good.

Spurs are up at the half.

God is here.

I really have nothing to complain about.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Relative Nature Of Habits

That's not the newest NBA prospect destined for a high dollar shaving cream endorsement deal. It's an image from Amazing Filtered Things of the hairiest man (hopefully person) in China. Oddly enough he's not the hairiest person in the world, which is a somewhat alarming thought in itself.

Of course there's no real reason I posted that picture except I figured it would get your attention, which is a cheap trick I learned long ago when some kid my old friend Harlan and I went to Junior High with ran for class President or Vice President or Prom Queen and a supporter put up a "Vote For" poster declaring:"SEX! Now that I have your attention..."
I know, it's trite now, but it was clever, at least I thought 1971.

My old friend Harlan (yes, I'm deliberately trying to move that phrase up in Google) with whom I haven't actually spoken in...ouch, this math hurts...35 or more years...mentioned in an email today that he's been enjoying Amazing Filtered Things ever since I swiped some other oddity from that site and posted it here a while back. Actually it was that email from my old friend Harlan along with a post by my blog friend Chuck that prompted me to think about habits and relationships today.

The term habit has a somewhat negative connotation I suppose. I at least tend to put in an implied "bad" before the word. That's a bad habit on my part. Habits can certainly be good things.

I have lots of habits, most many of which are good. I have my fair share of bad habits too, but I'm honestly working on those and the Lord knows all too well that there are a lot of habits I should start developing or pick up again.

For example, walking every day was a habit of mine for years - I thought of it as a "discipline" - but in either case it's something that I simply haven't had the time or energy for lately. I got out of that habit when we joined a gym and then when we stopped going to the gym (don't worry we're still paying for the membership) I fell out of the exercise habit entirely. It really seems like Amy and I always have too many other things to tackle. I am aware that such thinking is probably a bad habit...feel free to keep a running tally.

I also thought of writing every day as a discipline which became a habit, and then it became somewhat of a burden, so I decided not to hold myself to the "discipline" aspect of writing daily any longer. I think now that was a bad decision - just because a discipline becomes habit doesn't negate its value in fact I think that's the goal, so I'm going to work harder at using writing as a discipline.

I should also get in the habit of bathing the dogs more often, and with the humidity at about 173 percent in San Antonio lately, I should probably get in the habit of bathing myself more often too.

Alright, I've veered way off course and am dangerously close to straying toward thoughts which might suddenly make that hairy guy image above seem appropriate.

I really didn't mean for this to get into a list of prerequisites for the "Michael Main Makeover Edition."

Actually, I had sent my old friend Harlan an email last night to check on him since he's one of my highly underpaid - read that "conscripted" - yet highly appreciated editors who goes out of his way to gently point out occasional (cough) errors I make here in regard to fact, grammar, punctuation, spelling, omitted words, severed sentences, pared paragraphs, and sometimes quite often any semblance of sense.

I hadn't heard from him in a while and knowing full well my grammar and sensibilities haven't improved, I dropped him a note. Rest easy, all is well with my old friend Harlan.

I'm just in the habit of expecting to hear from my old friend Harlan (okay, I'll give it a rest) every so often...everyone else who notices my blunders in day to day life has no problem alerting me immediately...Harlan at least measures his criticism wisdom extremely well, and I honestly do appreciate our relationship.

Harlan has become someone whose guidance I trust in many areas of my life, not only punctuation...but we really haven't seen each other since I was 14 years old.

My blog friend Chuck (whose book by the way is still a great value) is someone I have met once, although "met" doesn't do the visit justice since it spanned a night of conversation and food, plus a morning of worship. Yet Chuck too is someone with whom I'm in the habit of trading blog comments, or emails (I know he suppresses his pent up desire to correct my writing at every turn) regarding various topics.

There are lots of other folks, Katy at, Jim, Deb and Janet are only a few of the people who have mentored me, and/or vica versa. Yet except for Jim, whom I had the pleasure of meeting last summer - was it last summer? I'm joining the AARP I swear- I've never met or spoken with any of them, but I still have what I consider some very meaningful relationships with all of them.

In fact, and this hit me a little hard when I thought about it, I probably have closer "soul-baring" relationships (I'm obviously leaving Amy out of this equation) with many of these distant folks, connected only through I-P and email addresses, than I do with people who live within blocks of us whom I've known for years.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, just like all habits aren't bad. In fact, I think it's a pretty good thing, not that I don't want thoughtful relationships with people who aren't at least a thousand miles away, but being able to have true fellowship, honest confession, and at times accountability with people all over the globe is truly a wonder... a work of God really.

It's not a bad habit at all as habits go.

Thanking God for those relationships a little more often is also a habit I'm going to work on as well. In fact, I think I'll raise that one to the daily discipline level too.

Would you mind adding that to the other side of the tally? It might help balance it out...a little...maybe.

And these God-chosen lives all around - what splendid friends they make! - Psalm 16:3 (The Message)


To my old friend Harlan,

I actually put that errant apostrophe in yesterday's post thinking I'd torture you out of silence before I decided to send the email...admittedly I wasn't absolutely positive it was grammatically wrong...but, I figured I had a good shot at it being incorrect and hoped it would be worthwhile either way.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Lala, Lulu, Well La De Da...

I'm playing with a new music service called It's a strange breed in that it lets you listen to music on line without paying for it.

Oh, and it's legal.

The wild idea of the founder of the site is that if you listen to music and like it, you'll buy it rather than download it illegally.

I's a foreign concept...a company that thinks it might promote music by letting people listen to it, rather than suing people who want to listen to music. Right now the selection is limited but the company is in talks with the major music labels. LaLa downloads also work with Ipods but you don't have to use ITunes...again, another weird idea that not restricting your potential audience might actually increase your audience.

I find the whole thing stunning.

What will the Internet think of next?

Apparently, and admittedly I'm still in the testing phase of this service, LaLa will also scan your computer to find out what music you already have and then you can listen to that music from any computer, anywhere....without paying for it again. How very odd...what are they thinking? It's like they want my business or something.

Speaking of wanting business. Did I mention

I found it through Natalie d'Arbeloff when I wanted to buy (the downloaded version of - hey, I'm on a budget) her wonderful book "The God Interviews."

She published it through which lets anyone publish almost anything from CD's to books to well, whatever. You don't have to publish 500 copies, you don't have to even put up any money up front. Obviously Lulu is getting a nice chunk of the profits and the more heady and experienced writers out there might know of better self-publishing options, but I did a walk through to publish a book (okay, except I didn't write a book first) and it took me about 15 minutes.

It let me choose hardback, soft cover, spiral bound, and even the art work if I wanted. Plus, you can put your book up for download and let people read it on their computers, or print it out themselves. You set your price, Lulu then factors in costs and its cut, shipping costs, etc. It's up to you to promote your book or CD or whatever, but it's really so easy *I* could do it...if I actually wrote something of course.

Anyway, I thought both services were worth mentioning.

I still need to get around to actually writing a book, but I'm listening to that possible prospect in my mind...which, by the way, is also a free service.

Of course, it's only licensed for one least I think so.

"There's no one else in here, right?"

Monday, June 04, 2007

Keepa Prayin'

I feel somewhat obligated to put up a simple post saying, "All is well."

Forgive me if I knock on wood as I do that...but Amy is much better today. She's still having pain that concerns her and me, but some much needed rest and I have no doubt a wonderful blanket of prayer, have brightened her spirits which is a large part of the battle.

I've learned not to go too far out on a limb making predictions regarding Amy's health...learned that the hard way...but right now, she's doing better, I'm doing better...and we are very grateful for your continued prayers.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Unwelcomed Visitor

I'm not sure who reads this blog, or for that matter why. However I know some folks have kept tabs on the trials and tribulations regarding Amy's health over the years.
Amy suffers from a number of maladies, initiated seemingly by gastrointestinal surgery some seven years ago and exacerbated by fibromyalgia, and other things.
We have been blessed that Amy has avoided having to be hospitalized for nearly the past three years, after numerous hospitalizations and surgeries.
However now her pain is returning and it's very bad. I'm going to watch her today and see if she improves at all, but having been down this road far too often I've learned not to delay action while banking on hope.
Please pray for Amy. She is frightened, there are some very critical deadlines which we must meet in order to fulfill promises to our family and our clients, and Amy needs to be clear headed, functional and relatively pain free in order for that to happen. I can't do it without her...but I don't want her to be concerned about such matters as it only adds to her stress, which adds to her other problems.

I'm not sure where this is going to lead right now. Last night was very we're taking it one step at a time, the first step is making sure I keep her hydrated and rested.

Please pray.

It's been a long time since I've had to post something like this, but a cursory check of past writings brings back both painful memories, and a wonderful realization that we have a tremendous support system in the "blogosphere" on which we have come to rely.

I'm falling back on that support system today.

Amy needs your prayers, as do I.

Please pray.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Hair Today...

Amy is about to cut my hair off.

This is at my request and usually requires a few days and or months of whining. I am blessed with a full head of hair, it grows very fast and I hate waiting around to get a hair cut. If I walk into some hair cutting place and they have to take my name, I walk out...I don't have the patience.

So, we're now in the routine of every 4 or 5 months of simply shaving off my hair. In a couple of weeks I'll stop looking like someone who narrowly escaped the electric chair, in a month I'll look quasi-military if you ignore my gut. In two months I'll start to whine about my hair being too long, and then eventually Amy and I will start looking for the clippers - the ones we don't use on the dogs - and usually a month or two later we'll find them.

Amy swears she knows where they are, so I'm going to assume that shortly I will be shorn.

I'd post before and after pictures (Amy really really wants to do this) but I'm certain they'd come back to haunt me somehow.

The clippers cost about eight bucks at the store whose name I can never remember but sells stuff rejected in France and dog food made in China, which is less than the cost of hair cut...and they usually last about 3 hair cuts before they self-destruct.

Still a good deal for me.

Ah, she's found the clippers! That means it's time to comb out the sticks and bugs, so my worst nightmare won't come to pass...again.

Yes, on at least one occasion the clippers have died midway through the shearing process (I have really thick hair and they do cost 8 bucks) and I've had to slap on a ball cap and go buy another set before Amy loses her nerve, lest I end up with a rather lopsided Mohawk.

No this is not me...just some poor schmo who let his photo get on the Internet...see, ya never know when or where it'll come back to haunt you.